Mental Health Awareness Week 2021
Monday 10th – Friday 16th May marks Mental Health Awareness Week for 2021.
At any one time, on in six workers experience mental health problems such as stress, depression, and anxiety. Increasing people’s awareness of mental health, reducing stigma, and promoting and facilitating early help seeking are recognised as key strategies for a mentally healthy workplace.
It has also been revealed that 1 in 4 UK construction workers have considered suicide and 55% experience mental health issues.
We know that being in work can be one of the best things for health, as long as the work is “good”. Employers should help keep their workers well and healthy by making sure that work is not carried out in conditions that lead to stress, MSDs, or other health problems.
Mental health first aid is one of many training programs designed to raise awareness of mental ill health in the workplace. It trains volunteer employees to recognise the signs and symptoms; they can listen and advise and, when required, point employees to professional services.
Avoiding Harm: Prevention First
Organisations should prioritise a preventative approach to avoid harm in the first place. To preserve and promote mental wellness, organisations could:
- Produce localised assessments of risk based on stressors present in the workplace and ensure relevant managers regularly review them so they can reflect on changes in operational demand, organisational structure or changes in competency levels brought by new or temporary workers, and any role responsibility modifications.
- Ensure the mental wellness of employees is monitored during intense working periods and develop a suite if controls that can be implemented effectively to drive the right behaviors. Leadership may need to sanction these controls, which will be critical to delivering a culture of wellbeing.
- Develop a training programme that includes educating workers and managers in emotional hygiene techniques that help to develop personal resilience. Provide managers with tools to identify workers who are struggling to cope, help to destigmatise mental ill health and encourage open discussions between workers and managers.
- Introduce an active programme of health and promotion ideas and interventions, which includes advising on good lifestyle choices and supporting workers to take them.
- IOSH, Mental health first aiders – workplace considerations: https://iosh.com/media/4729/iosh-mhfa-considerations.pdf
- IOSH Benchmarking questions on mental health in the workplace: Workplace ill treatment and productivity (iosh.com)
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